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We know it's hard to find a counselor. You leave a message and you don't get a call back. You send an email and you get no reply. Don't give up! Here is some advice from a professional counselor, Jennifer Auger, on how to find a counselor as quickly as possible. 

Step 1 is to know your insurance (if you intend to use it). What's the co-pay? What's your deductible? Do you have a limit to how many sessions you can have in one year? On the back of your insurance card is an information line you can call to answer these questions. If you plan on using your insurance, then you want to look for a counselor who is "in-network." 

Your insurance panel might have an online search function. If so, use it! This will populate the counselors near you that are in-network. 

Another great search option is the Therapist Finder on Psychology Today. Although it is not tailored to find counselors who take your insurance, you can find a list of local counselors who practice in a specific area.

If you find a counselor, check and see if they have a website. You can learn a lot about their approach and specialties from the information listed there. Most counselors will explain if they take insurance (and which plans they are in-network with) and the different types of therapy they offer. If you think they are a good fit, then it is time to reach out to them.

Your best bet is to email the counselor. They have a much easier time replying to emails than to voicemails. In the email, you should: 

  1. Briefly describe what's going on (who, what, why, etc.)

  2. Briefly describe a therapy goal (or two)

  3. Describe the insurance plan in as much detail as possible.

  4. Give all hours of availability.

A lot of counselors have full caseloads, but timeslots open up here and there. It'll help if you are flexible about when you can come in. Mornings or early afternoons tend to be more available for counselors. I recommend emailing the counselor again after one week if you don't hear back. Some counselors get 5+ emails daily and can have a hard time juggling all the requests, but often the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you keep asking politely (without being annoying), chances are you'll get in sooner. If a counselor says they're "full" then ask to be on the waitlist. It helps when clients express their punctuality (not no-showing session) and eagerness to meet goals.

If you aren't having luck getting on a counselor's caseload, then I recommend repeating the above steps with the next counselor. Doing the above steps gets people into therapy much faster.

Although there is high demand for in-person therapy, also consider doing telehealth. There are many great counselors out there who do teletherapy and often have very flexible hours. You can also consider using Better Help or another online therapy platform to find a counselor online.

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